While Duke’s reading assignment for its incoming freshmen, Fun Home, is making national news because some religious students have publicly refused to read the book for its portrayals of lesbian sex, Cornell is preemptively solving its summer reading assignment problem by doing away with it.
In other words, Cornellians, both students and faculty, dont lik reeding.
As reported in the Daily Sun, the Office of the Vice Provost scaled back this year’s Summer Reading Project due to lack of student and faculty interest in the project in recent year. The Summer Reading Project consists of students and faculty reading an assigned book over the summer and discussing it in small groups with a faculty member during Orientation Week as one of most student’s first academic experiences on campus.
The program has existed for 15 years in this manner, but this year the discussions have been phased out, with an art exhibition at the Johnson Museum and other events around campus replacing them.
The Sun reports an email from the Office of the Vice Provost indicating lack of student and faculty interest and engagement as reasons for the change, as well as programming changes to Orientation Week.
Professor Emeritus Isaac Kramnick, government, and Professor Ross Brann, Near Eastern studies, were quoted in the Sun article defending the project. Brann also wrote an op-ed for the Sun on the topic last week.
It should be clarified that the reading, student essay, and student-faculty discussion have never been required of students to do or attend; they are merely suggested activities available during Orientation Week. Clearly, the optional nature of the reading and discussion have been their undoing.
What will replace the Summer Reading Project? Who knows: it could be the Summer Tweeting Project or the Summer Twerking Project, since that’s where it seems all things in this world are headed.